The Antonio Brown drama-fest looks like it may have come to an end, as least for now, after weeks filled with argument, scandal, fines, and displeasure. Brown requested from his release from the Raiders on Saturday, and about six hours after his release, he signed with the New England Patriots. It's been a tumultuous offseason for Brown, as he created a battle with the NFL over an outlawed helmet that he used to wear, then refused to play when they didn't let him wear his older one. This led to fines from the Raiders (which was completely understandable) that Brown didn't appreciate at all, then led to multiple confrontations with GM Mike Mayock, which led to more fines and all of his $30 million in guaranteed money voided, and then, ultimately, his release. It's one of the craziest stories that we've seen in NFL history, and it might not be over yet. But for now, let's take a look at the winners and losers from this whole situation.
New England Patriots
The rich just keep getting richer. Adding Brown gives Tom Brady yet another lethal weapon to throw to, giving the Patriots possibly one of the deadliest offenses we've seen from them. We saw the Patriots dismantle the Steelers on Sunday Night with their aerial attack, and adding Brown is only going to make them more dominant. He's coming to New England on a one-year deal, so there isn't too much risk involved. And as far as his attitude goes, Bill Belichick is a coach that takes no BS whatsoever. He's not afraid to sit his star players if they are acting up, no matter how big the game is, so it's up to Brown to keep himself in check. If he can, this Patriots offense, and especially their receiving core, is going to be very scary throughout the course of the year. Business is Boomin in New England.
Brown is a winner in this case simply because of himself switching teams. Going from Oakland, a team that likely isn't going to the playoffs and doesn't have the best offense to New England, a Super Bowl contender with the greatest coach and quarterback of all-time, is clearly an upgrade. He's going to probably have less targets with players like Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and James White eating up receptions, but Brown is going to be playing for something that is greater than stats: a championship. Brown also has the flexibility to enter free agency again next year, especially if the Patriots decline the $20 Million option placed on him.
Brown was a handful for HC Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock, and I have to give them credit as they were able to try to deal with Brown's shenanigans. Mayock did the best he could, especially as a first-time GM, but unfortunately the two sides couldn't make it work. Because they did have to give up a couple picks for Brown just for him not to play in a Raider uniform, the Raiders have to be losers in this situation. It wasn't much, only a 3rd and a 5th-rounder, but not having Brown is really going to sting for the Raiders' offense this season, especially now that Jordy Nelson is also gone. I'm expecting big seasons out of Tyrell Williams and Josh Jacobs in AB's absence, but it looks like it's going to be another dismal year in Oakland.
Once again, Carr enters the 2019 season with no real weapons to throw to with AB's departure. His starting running back is Josh Jacobs, who will probably have a good season but is a rookie and will have a lot of learning to do. His #1 receiver is Tyrell Williams, who is in his first season in Oakland after some good seasons for the Chargers, but he's never been more than a #2 wideout in his career. His #2 receiver is J.J. Nelson, who has never caught more than 34 passes in his 4-year career and only had 7 receptions last season, and his tight end is Darren Waller, who is seeing his first real NFL action this season after bouncing back and forth between practice squads. Carr is a good NFL quarterback in the prime of his career, but his talent is currently being wasted with the Raiders with not a lot of help around him.
When you have retired NFL legends (and previous divas) O.J. Simpson and Terrell Owens telling you to stop your antics, you might be doing something wrong.
Through this saga, Brown has completely damaged his reputation and has given a case for one of the NFL's most destructive players. The helmet argument was bad enough, and he only made things worse by not showing up for mandatory practices and team events, and seemed to keep digging himself into a bigger hole as time went on. One part of this whole process I didn't agree with was that he kept acting like he was the victim. AB, you were NOT the victim; if anything, the Raiders were, and it seemed like you didn't want to take any sort of accountability for your actions. To make things even worse, the Raiders ended up having to void the $30 million of guaranteed money because of him being fined so much, and there's a possibility he'll never get paid that type of money ever again. A lot of people are considering if CTE was involved in any of his recent decision-making processes, and it wouldn't shock me if that was the case. Overall, this isn't a good look for Brown. He may have winded up on the team he wanted, but the way it happened wasn't pretty.